Tapati (tapati) wrote,

The word poor contains multitudes

I was thinking the other day how many levels of poverty there really are.

Even in the group labelled "homeless," there are lots of permutations. Off the top of my head and using my own experience on different rungs of homelessness I can think of the following situations:

Temporarily couch-surfing with access to showers/kitchen facilities, just while between apartments or after a breakup.

Living out of camper. (I was in a borrowed camper with my kids, on the street, for a month.)

Living out of car. (Either of those might have a health club membership and even a job that enables them to shower and appear "normal.")

Living in a tent in someone's yard (I did this for a bit) with access to kitchen and shower.

Living in a garage or other attached space, rustic and unheated but again with access to shower/kitchen. (I did this too, during my first pregnancy.)

Living in a tent at the campground(s). They make you move periodically, usually 14 days, and nowadays they have reservation systems online.

Using a backpack with tent, sleeping bag, going into the woods to sleep at night. May access shower at homeless support center if one exists.

Wanderers, formerly "hobos" who catch trains and move from town to town, sleeping where they can.

People who sleep on streets or underpasses but stay in one town, may have roots there or use homeless services.

Homeless in places like Alaska that have sub-zero temps for long periods of time. (I was amazed to hear that people managed this.)

You can be homeless with an income--SSI, aid for children--or you can be reliant solely on panhandling or odd jobs if someone is moved to hire you. All of these factors determine how well you can survive and how you will appear to people who are housed--whether you can afford to do laundry, have a place to store things, can cook your own food, whether you are able to socialize and go to homeless centers or soup kitchens or you have PTSD to the degree that you try to be alone as much as you can.

I knew one man, when I was a night guard at a corporate headquarters, who lived in his car in the back parking lot and came in early every morning to use their showers, there for those who biked to work. I don't know if his co-workers guessed that he was homeless.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some types of situations but the point I want to make is that the word "poor" contains multitudes. Poor people who have a place to live also live in a variety of situations. Similarly there are many levels of the middle class (and wealthy).

x-post in the group How To Be Poor In America: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215084151883/
Tags: classism, disability, food stamps, homeless, homelessness, poverty

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